Norfolk Southern supports some new regulations after East Palestine disaster in Ohio

WASHINGTON (AP) — The CEO of Norfolk Southern has backed part of a bipartisan Senate bill to slash railroads after a flaming hazard caused a train derailment at the Ohio-Pennsylvania border last month. We are tightening safety regulations.

CEO Alan Shaw is under pressure from senators and federal safety regulators to step up efforts on safety regulations as he appears before the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday. Under aggressive questioning from senators at another hearing earlier this month, he promised voluntary safety improvements and sincerely apologized for the derailment that disrupted life in East Palestine, Ohio. However, Shaw fell short of approving proposed safety rules under the 2023 Railway Safety Act.

This time, Shaw said in prepared remarks released on Tuesday that Norfolk Southern “supports legislative efforts to increase safety in the freight rail industry.” However, he did not mention some key provisions of the Railway Safety Act, such as increasing fines for safety violations and designating trains carrying flammable liquids as highly dangerous.

Shaw supports legislative provisions for railroads to fund the training of emergency personnel, a review of rules for triennial railroad inspections, and an accelerated phase-out of older tank car models.

Shaw also said there are “areas where we believe Congress can go further with safety legislation”, such as tightening design standards for tank cars and researching techniques to detect problems with rail cars. increase.

A February 3 derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, caused no immediate injuries, but state and local officials reportedly released toxic PVC from five tankers. A decision was made to burn it, and half of the approximately 5,000 residents were evacuated. With the sight of smoke billowing above the village and reports of residents still suffering from the disease, there has been heightened concern about rail safety and how dangerous goods are transported.

The Senate Committee on Commerce will also hear from Jennifer Homendy, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB and Federal Railroad Administration are investigating the East Palestine derailment and Norfolk Southern safety measures.

In a prepared remark, Gommendi said, “Railway remains one of the safest modes of transport,” but also pointed out some safety shortcomings in current regulations. does not fall under flammable trains.

The derailed train in East Palestine was not classified as highly dangerous because it fell below the threshold for the number of vehicles carrying flammable liquids such as gasoline, ethanol and acetone.

Hommendi promotes a broader definition of high-risk flammable trains, stating that it “should include a wide range of hazardous materials” and that “even a single vehicle carrying hazardous materials would be sufficient to notify emergency responders.” justify it,” he said.

The senators also supported organizations representing railroads, East Palestinian and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, and two Ohio senators pushing for railroad safety legislation, Republican JD Vance and Democrat Sherrod I plan to hear from Brown.

In the House, Rep. Bill Johnson, a Republican from the district that includes Eastern Palestine, and Emilia Strong Sykes, a Democrat from Ohio, introduced alternate versions of the railroad safety bill.

Both Senators and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have been outspoken critics of Norfolk Southern. Vance, who serves on the Senate Commerce Committee, circulated a memo to fellow Republicans on the committee this week, including asking Shaw about whether he supported increasing fines for safety violations. He urged them to focus on the new safety rules.

In the memo, Vance suggests asking Shaw whether penalties should be tougher “when a railroad company poisons an entire community.”

Vance also met with Shaw on Tuesday ahead of the hearing and told The Associated Press it was a “productive conversation”. He added that he hopes to support the mandate to put detectors every 10 miles (16 kilometers) to monitor overheated bearings, such as those that caused the Palestinian derailment.

“If these guys really want to show a commitment to railroad safety and support the law, that’s important,” Vance said. It’s important to support the broad thrust of what you’re trying to do.”

https://www.wkbn.com/news/local-news/east-palestine-train-derailment/norfolk-southern-supports-some-new-regs-after-ohio-disaster/ Norfolk Southern supports some new regulations after East Palestine disaster in Ohio

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